Titled “Inside FINAL FANTASY VII”, this documentary features several original team members who had major influences on the sights and sounds for one of the most beloved JRPGs of all time.
“When you say Final Fantasy VII, the first thing I think of is Midgar,” states Yusuke Naora, the game’s original art director, during the documentary’s introduction. “That first scene where it zooms out and then zooms back in again… Even for us, when we watched that, we all got goosebumps.”
The 21-minute video also goes over how Hironobu Sakaguchi came up with the steampunk-inspired aesthetic and plot, originally envisioning a “detective working in a rainy city like New York with giant skyscrapers.” There’s also mention of how the game’s visual theme was totally not inspired by Blade Runner, despite that being a popular theory!
Shinji Hashimoto, the publicity producer for Final Fantasy VII, also appears and goes over the game’s first TV commercial, explaining how the 3D models of Midgar opened the team’s eyes and made them realize they were developing something new and special.
Hashimoto goes on to cover some of the struggles the team faced, including taking a company that had only ever done 2D pixel art and transitioning to 3D work. The opening CG was one of the first projects completed for Final Fantasy VII, and it laid the groundwork for a style that the art team would follow moving forward.
The documentary provides an in-depth look into the characters, story, gameplay, and overall development of the 1997 classic. It provides plenty of deep dives, too, such as explaining how the Shinra HQ was based on the “Warship Building” near Square Enix’s office. However, at the time, Squaresoft was actually in that very building!